A sweeping expansion of Twitter’s policy against posting private information was met with backlash shortly after the company announced it Tuesday, as Twitter users questioned whether the policy would be practicable.
Twitter’s new policy states that photos or videos of individuals posted without their permission will be removed at their request. Twitter’s rules already prohibit posting private information such as addresses, phone numbers and medical records.
“If we are informed by any person depicted or by an authorized representative that they have not consented to the sharing of their private photo or video, we will remove it,” the new Twitter policy reads. “This policy does not apply to media featuring public figures or individuals when media and accompanying tweets are shared in the public interest or add value to the public debate.”
The policy goes beyond US law, which allows people to be photographed or filmed in public places. Under the Twitter policy, people could request that photos of them be removed, even if the photos were taken in public.
But Twitter said its policy complies with privacy laws in the European Union and elsewhere and that it had already removed photos of individuals in those locations, in accordance with local law.
The new policy will extend privacy rights to users in countries that do not have similar laws, a Twitter spokeswoman said. Under Twitter’s policy, a user could have a photo removed if it was being used to harass them or if they just didn’t like the photo.
Twitter plans to make exceptions for newsworthy images and videos, and the company will consider whether the image was publicly available, used by traditional news outlets, or was “relevant to the community.”
“We will always try to assess the context in which the content is shared, and in such cases we may allow the images or videos to remain on the service,” the policy said.